Tag Archives: Townsend Bell

GRC TV: Friday Recap

On Friday, the stars of Global Rallycross got their first taste of the FrottmaRing at X Games Munich with jump practice. Tanner Foust breaks down some of the unique characteristics of the track, while Townsend Bell describes his first competitive experience in a rallycross car and Timur Timerzyanov talks about his return to the series.

To watch this weekend’s Global Rallycross doubleheader at X Games Munich, tune in Saturday at 9:30 AM ET on ESPN3.com, Saturday at 7:00 PM ET on ABC, and Sunday at 11:00 AM ET on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

Race Preview: X Games Munich

IN BRIEF: It’s double the fun in Germany this weekend, as Global Rallycross stages a doubleheader event at X Games Munich this Saturday and Sunday.

TUNE IN INFORMATION: (all times Eastern) 

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the full entry list.

LAST RACE: Three drivers earned their first X Games medals in Foz do Iguaçu, with Scott Speed beating Toomas Heikkinen and Patrik Sandell to the line. OlsbergsMSE-prepared Ford Fiestas took the first five finishing positions, giving Ford a huge leg up in the race to defend its manufacturer’s championship.

DRIVER CHANGES: Three drivers will make their GRC season debuts in Munich, including two drivers making their rallycross debuts. Townsend Bell (OMSE2) and Mattias Ekstrom (Marklund Motorsport) are the two newcomers, while the third is a big name in the rallycross world: Timur Timerzyanov, the defending European Supercar champion and current points leader, who will substitute for the otherwise-occupied Travis Pastrana. Timerzyanov raced in last year’s season finale, finishing ninth.

“I think it’s awesome having Timur involved,” said Bryce Menzies, Timerzyanov’s Pastrana Racing teammate for the weekend. “He has so much knowledge of changing stuff and trying new things, so I think it’s going to be good this weekend to see what ideas he has to make the cars faster.”

THE TRACK: The Munich layout is 807.3 meters long and features a nearly 60:40 ratio of gravel to tarmac. The eight turn course is constructed behind the Fröttmaning bus station near the Allianz Arena, earning it the nickname “FröttmaRing.”

“This track is completely different than what we’ve had for GRC and X Games,” said Sverre Isachsen. “This is more like what we have in Europe. This is really good.”

ON THE DOUBLE: X Games Munich will feature two races, to make up for the rain-cancelled X Games Barcelona event. These events will mark GRC’s first doubleheader since the inaugural 2011 season, but the first time in which two consecutive days of points-paying rallycross has been held. Only Marcus Gronholm was ever able to pull off a doubleheader sweep, doing so at Irwindale Speedway on March 25-26, 2011.

DRIVER POINTS:

  1. Scott Speed, 21
  2. Toomas Heikkinen, 18
  3. Patrik Sandell, 15
  4. Steve Arpin, 13
  5. Brian Deegan, 12

MANUFACTURER POINTS:

  1. Ford, 39
  2. Dodge, 12

Meet Townsend Bell, Driver, OMSE2

Townsend Bell is no stranger to any facet of the world of motorsports. He’s been behind the wheel of just about everything from IndyCars to sports cars. He’s taken wins and championships across the globe. He’s even been in front of the camera, both behind the wheel and as an expert race analyst.

But at X Games Munich, Bell will add yet another bullet point to his racing resume: Global Rallycross driver. He’ll make his rallycross debut in the doubleheader weekend, driving the #7 Royal Purple Ford Fiesta for OMSE2. In advance of his new opportunity, Bell sat down to answer some questions for the fans at home:

First things first—what inspired you to come to Global Rallycross?

Just watching it on X Games, like everybody else. I saw guys like Tanner Foust and Kenny Brack, Travis Pastrana, obviously, and I thought it was a really cool format. The cars looked incredible. So I started researching it a little bit. The rest of the year I’m pretty busy, but there was a weekend where I didn’t have anything going on here, and I thought “man, it’d be fun to get out there to Munich and do it.”

I got in touch with Andreas, did a little testing with him, and was able to get everything together. We’ve got Royal Purple as a sponsor—those guys, I’m just getting to know them, and they’re racers, they’re very cool guys. It was just kind of a perfect storm, you know?

Most fans know you as a successful open-wheel driver, but your career has never been limited to just that. Do you have any experience driving multi-surface or off-road vehicles?

I’ve ridden motocross a lot, just for fun. I love dirtbikes. So I have a little experience jumping, and all of that, riding in dirt. But in terms of rally car, I’ve probably got about 40 minutes total seat time in testing—which is more than Scott Speed had, but not a lot. So I’ve got a lot to learn. I just come into this with a lot of enthusiasm, eyes wide open, and listening for any tips and looking for anything I can pick up to improve.

You’ve adapted to different forms of racing before, moving from open wheel racing to sports cars and now to rallycross. Is there a secret to switching from one discipline to another without spending too much time getting comfortable?

I think it’s just being very candid with the people you’re working with. If you’ve got questions, ask, and (I) don’t assume that anything I’ve done before is going to help me, necessarily. My goal is to just be really in tune with trying to pick up as many little things as I can and to piece it all together as quickly as possible, because the track time is very limited.

You’re no stranger to racing in prestigious events—you’ve been in the 12 Hours of Sebring and Indianapolis 500 just this year. Where does X Games rank on that scale, and how does it compare?

It’s just really cool! You think of X Games—obviously you think of rally cars, but since X Games has been around, you also think of Best Trick, or Step Up, or Speed and Style, or the halfpipe, or Tony Hawk, or whatever. I’ve got two boys who are ten and seven years old, so the highlight for me is being able to tell them that dad’s going to do X Games, because with a young audience, I think it counts for a lot. And it’s just—what a cool thing to be a part of.

If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would have been a part of X Games, I would have said “in what?” It’s great that rallycross has really become a main fixture of the series now.

You mentioned that you’ve done some testing in advance of this weekend. What are some of your impressions about the cars?

I got a quick joyride in Vegas last year in one of the Supercars, one of the Fords—I think it was Deegan’s car. And I’ve had two chances to drive the GRC Lites car, which is the new feeder series and is really a fantastic car. I encourage anybody that’s even remotely interested in rallycross to go research GRC Lites and have a look. That gives me a lot of confidence, knowing that I at least spent some time in that car, feel reasonably comfortable with the dynamics, and now to come back and drive the Supercar again, I hope that helps a lot.

Do you have any sort of expectations for yourself in your first GRC event? And if all goes well, can we expect to see you back in the series sooner than later?

My expectation is, again, just to learn as quick as I can. Obviously I want to make the main event, but I think it’s going to be a challenge just when you look at the names, the experiences, and the credentials of the guys I’m racing with. But regardless of how it goes, I absolutely will be looking for further opportunities to come and race again.

GRC Drivers No Stranger to Competing in Germany

Though both Global Rallycross and X Games may be making their first-ever stops in Germany, heading to Munich at the end of June, that doesn’t mean that GRC drivers are unfamiliar with competing in the country. In fact, if the past is any indication, visiting the country should be a welcome site for much of the sport’s European contingent.

The European championship often features a round at the Estering circuit, located in Buxtehude in the northern part of Germany. Over the past decade, Estering has hosted eight events, including last year’s season finale won by Liam Doran.

But three-time European champion and current Subaru PUMA Rallycross Team driver Sverre Isachsen is perhaps the king of the Estering. Isachsen took his first Supercar victory in Buxtehude in 2005, and claimed additional wins in 2006, 2009, and 2010. Only twice, in 2004 and 2008, did he fail to score the victory while competing at the track.

While Isachsen was often unbeatable, Andreas Eriksson, the man behind OlsbergsMSE and the new GRC Lites concept, would frequently mount a strong challenge. Eriksson won the race in 2008, finished second to Isachsen in 2006 and 2009, and added a fifth place in 2010.

Many drivers with GRC links besides Doran also competed at Buxtehude last season. Andy Scott, who ran four GRC races in 2012, finished fifth in the Supercar class, while Timur Timerzyanov, not long before he made his GRC debut with OMSE, finished 14th. Future GRC Lites driver Joni Wiman finished eighth in the Super 1600 class, while Anton Marklund wrapped up his Touring Car class championship with a seventh place run.

Two of the drivers making their GRC debuts at X Games Munich also have experience racing in Germany. Mattias Ekstrom is one of the DTM touring car series’ most legendary drivers, debuting in the series in 2001 and taking 17 victories and two championships since then. Meanwhile, Townsend Bell made his CART debut at the Lausitzring in 2001, finishing on the lead lap in 13th place in a Patrick Racing Reynard-Toyota.

Photo credit: QBA/QNIGAN.com

Townsend Bell to Make GRC Debut at X Games Munich

Townsend Bell, a seven-time Indianapolis 500 starter and current American Le Mans Series driver, will make his Global Rallycross debut at X Games Munich on June 30, 2013. Bell will drive the #7 Royal Purple Ford Fiesta for OMSE2.

Bell’s major professional career began after he won the 2001 Indy Lights championship, launching him into CART, Formula 3000, and Formula One test drives. Since 2004, he has mostly focused on IndyCar, earning a fourth place finish in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 and 12 top-10 finishes in 36 career Indycar starts.  In 2012, Bell won the 12 Hours of Sebring in his first major sportscar attempt.

“Global Rallycross is thrilled to have such a talented and diverse driver like Townsend be a part of our series and join the driver line up in Munich,” said Colin Dyne, Global Rallycross CEO. “Townsend and I have a long and successful history together and I look forward to continuing that streak.”

This season, the San Luis Obispo, California native has competed in the Indianapolis 500 for Panther Racing and is contesting the full American Le Mans Series schedule for West Alex Job Racing in a Ferrari 458 GTE. Alongside his commitments behind the wheel, he also handles duties for IndyCar broadcasts, on NBC Sports, as an expert analyst.

OMSE2 is a satellite operation of OlsbergsMSE, which has won the past two Global Rallycross championships with driver Tanner Foust. At X Games Foz do Iguaçu, the satellite operation scored a gold medal with Scott Speed in its debut.

Bell is the latest in a long line of open-wheel drivers to make an attempt at racing in GRC. Ex-Formula 1 driver Speed currently leads the points, while Nelson Piquet Jr. and Buddy Rice are other open-wheel veterans to have raced this year.

About Royal Purple

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